Emerging LOHC technology (TiA)

The use of liquid organic hydrogen carriers (LOHCs) is part of broader research into hydrogen as a clean and sustainable energy carrier.

Ian Clarke
Honeywell UOP

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Article Summary

LOHCs are a class of chemical compounds that can be used to store and transport hydrogen. The idea behind them is to use liquid organic compounds, such as toluene, as carriers for hydrogen molecules, allowing for a safer and more convenient means of handling and transporting hydrogen gas (see Figure 1).

The process typically involves chemically binding hydrogen to a liquid organic compound, forming a stable LOHC. This LOHC can then be easily transported and stored at ambient conditions so the hydrogen can be released when needed by various methods, such as heating or using a catalyst.

One advantage of LOHCs is that they offer a way to overcome some of the challenges associated with the storage and transportation of gaseous hydrogen. Hydrogen, in its natural state, is a lightweight and highly flammable gas, which poses safety concerns. A trifecta of market developments, regulations, and technical advancements could accelerate LOHC commercialisation. PTQ recently discussed LOHC opportunities with Ian Clarke, Honeywell UOP’s Business Director, Naphtha and Aromatics/Derivatives, UOP Process Technologies (UPT):

What market and regulatory incentives could accelerate LOHC implementation? Market, regulatory, and government incentives currently seem key to driving clean hydrogen solutions, whether green or blue hydrogen projects. These incentives will enable hydrogen producers to reduce the cost of hydrogen either through subsidising electricity prices or contributing towards the capital of the projects. The use of LOHC is closely connected to the same incentives. A hydrogen economy is created only when it is more cost-effective for countries to generate hydrogen at a lower price than another country can generate the same clean hydrogen.

The Honeywell LOHC Solution has been optimised in terms of hydrogen recovery, capital cost, and operating costs to become a minor part of the overall hydrogen pricing. For example, with the Honeywell LOHC Solution, we can recover more than 98.5% of the hydrogen generated in Country A as a final hydrogen product in Country B without post-treatment, with carrier make-ups of significantly less than 1 wt%. These two factors alone make the Honeywell LOHC solution a highly attractive hydrogen transport solution compared to other pathways and offerings.

What technical advances will facilitate the integration of LOHC with refinery infrastructure in 2024 and beyond? The Honeywell LOHC Solution is based on commercially proven technology and catalysts that have been operating in refineries for more than 50 years. LOHC allows integration with existing transfer and storage systems, refinery operations, and existing hazardous clarifications. This allows customers to select a solution that is not only ready to implement now but has the potential to revamp existing refining assets so they can fast-track clean hydrogen projects. This technical solution is now ready at commercial-scale capacities with options for new unit installations or low-Capex retrofits of existing plants.

This short case study originally appeared in PTQ's Technology In Action Feature - Q2 2024 Issue

For more information: charles.brandl@honeywell.com


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